I am beyond frustrated with my premed advisor right now. I’m in second semester as a non-traditional undergrad, plodding my way to medical school. I have an abysmal ugrad record from 15 years ago (2.3 GPA), but now I’m in a rigorous program earnings A’s and high B’s (fall GPA 3.4).
My premed advisor has advised me not take gen chem/gen physics together, because she doesn’t think I can handle the load. At this point, I only have my premed prereqs and my major courses to take (I transferred in with the max credits and I’m finishing up the general reqs I need to graduate from my university this semester). She’s even gone so far as to say I must sign an “against my advisement waiver” if I want to sign up for physics and chem next fall, which I’m worried won’t look good when I apply for premedical committee support come app time.
What do you think? Will the load be too much to take together? Should I sign the waiver and follow my own mind, or should I take another expensive school year to take each sequence separately? Thanks for any and all advice.
Rule 4: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Rule 5: Do Not Risk Bad Grades By Taking Too Much
My question I always ask students is do your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school quickly. Gen Chem and Physics at the same time may be doable but as my rules above state you risk poorer grades in doing so. Grades are what will help show the adcoms that you can do the work. And a 3.4 GPA is really just OK for getting into medical school. I would have to say I concur with premed advisor on this
What classes have you particularly excelled at in the past? And what else would you take that semester? If you aren’t taking much of anything else, you could maybe swing it. As part of a 16 credit schedule, it might be pushing it. Do you know anything about the professors? The prof you have makes a TON of difference grade wise, particularly (in my opinion) for physics. And remember, you don’t need to take calculus based physics, the algebra based is good enough for medschools. Good luck!
I was in a similar situation last summer, taking Org I and physics II over the summer, while studying for and taking the MCAT, applying to med school and getting ready for the birth of my son.
I came to this site quite a few times for information and got the usual “you’re doing too much too soon” response from most people.
I got A’s in both of my classes, did well on the MCAT and got into med school.
I’m not trying to slam on anyone that gives advice on here, because taking it slow and being very careful with the steps you take is the way to go, but bottom line is, you know what you can handle and what you can’t. If you know you can get A’s (anything less is really not acceptable, especially in your situation) then go for it, but if your advisor is a good one then they should have your best interest in mind. Just really take some time and think about it and don’t rush anything if you dont have too.
Your advisor suggested you not load up for good reason. Tanking a grade in such important classes will badly damage your chances of getting into med school.
That said, if you are confident in your ability to succeed in the classes, you should take them, regardless of what your advisor says. As for the letter she wants you to sign, what of it? I’m quite sure med schools are not looking to disqualify students with the initiative and ability to succeed a difficult course load, even despite an advisor’s caution.
Now, if you take the course load and blow it, that’s a different story. In that case, you look like an immature, hard-headed student who refused to listen to wise counsel. So only take the course load if you’re confident you can succeed. But if you are confident – then by all means go for it.
I don’t like the Rule list above.
I realize this is a minority view on this particular site, but I have to side with jonrobins for this basic reason: taking two premedical sciences simultaneously is a means to prove to YOURSELF whether you have what it takes to make it through medical school. If the rate and volume of the work is too heavy (to say nothing of the level of difficulty), then it is a relatively painless way to know that the rapid pace of Phase I will be too much.
My belief: If you painstakingly take courses one at a time or some such, and get As all the way, it’s a really artificial test. Sure, you may get admitted, but it’s a bad indicator of your true academic readiness.
I agree with Matt … If you can handle those two classes with good grades then it is another indication you can handle the workload in medical school. You will not have the luxury of taking only one or two classes there. There is a reason they say “It is like drinking from a fire hydrant”
Just to clarify the comment I made with my rules, I wanted to add my “Rule 7: Learn To Be a Student” If you have been out of school for sometime jumping into too many classes, can be a disaster. But if you have proven to yourself that your are good at the skills to be a good student, then taking 2 difficult courses may work for you. Many students who realize they want to be docs when they are older often feel that have to do everything now, take too much, get horrible grades, and decrease their chances.
My personal experience and my cheap bastard ways, during my informal post-bacc I took 15-18 credits a term as after 12 credits tuition was a flat fee. Even though I was working full time (on a flexible schedule and out of my house), I sure wasn’t gonna spend on extra dime if I could help it. I took physics along with with biochem, genetics, and similar during the same terms. I was also one of those crazy people who took Ochem in the summer (15 weeks of schoolin’, but I was doing it in 5).
Thanks to all who have responded. I should clarify a few things.
My advisor has developed a bad reputation among her advisees. She has given several students ill-informed advice; telling one student that he had to retake prereqs when he didn’t, telling me that I had to request a leave of absence to take pre-chem and pre-physics as a refresher at a city college when I didn’t. She’s condescending and generally unhelpful. In fact, the student who was told to re-take prereqs switched advisors after he sought advice from the head of the premedical advisors. I’m seriously considering following suit.
I’m questioning her advice because she gives it to everyone, whether they’re 4.0 (the guy who she told had to retake his prereqs) or, as someone earlier pointed out, less-than-impressive 3.4 students like me. I know that I have to kill in my science courses, which is why I’m planning to take the refresher courses over the summer, to see if I can really handle the workload. Also, I’m a full-time student who doesn’t work regularly. I freelance here and there. I worked more last semester, but this semester I’ve set a rule to pick up a few freelance days a month (4 a month max). I feel like that should help me handle the increased academic weight.
MattFugazi really sums up how I’m feeling about taking both classes at once. I want to prove to myself that I can handle the workload. My program requires all pre-meds/postbacs to take orgo and bio together, as a weed-out before the MCATs and med school apps. I don’t want to wait until I’ve paid $60,000 and spent two years dragging out my sequence to find out that I can’t hack the heavier load.
I so much agree with what others have said. Most people don’t truly know their limits because they have never pushed hard enough to reach them. My postbacc adviser all but forbade me to take Bio, Ochem, and Physics concurrently. But I went with my gut and am the better for it. There is so much good information out there, advisers are really just a formality. Figure out what you need and what you can handle, then do what you have to to get your adviser to sign off on it. Don’t ever let an adviser or anyone else (except maybe your wife :-)) stand between you and a timely medical school admission!
Adding to what others have said:
I went back to school for a second bachelor’s degree (in computer science). I overloaded myself the first quarter, taking 20 hours, all core classes – two programming language classes, an algorithms class, and two other hefty classes. My advisor told me it was a bad idea and that I would be sorry, but I tried it anyway. Ended up with a B+ and the rest As.
The next quarter, I did something really foolish: I took all the rest of my classes, or 28 hours. In one quarter. My advisor very heavily advised against it. My teachers told me flat out that I would fail their courses.
And, to be honest, I had never been a very good student. A real underachiever for my whole life.
But I did it anyway, despite what everyone said. My pregnant wife said to go for it, so I buckled down and did 28 hours in a single quarter.
Result: I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.925 GPA in only two quarters.
Moral: Know your limits and push them. If you really believe you can do something, if you’re truly confident in your ability, then give it a try. Surprise everyone, including yourself.
Of course, the downside is that if you mess up, you may do yourself a lot of damage. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had gotten the flu that quarter.
My “Rule 1: Take a Breath”
My “Rule 2: Trust Your Gut”
That’s your honest gut, not over confident bravado, nor succumbing to fear. Not because you want to rush to make it in, nor creep up on it forever.
By the way, “Rule 3: It Depends”
Everybody situation, ability, etc are different. Non-traditional implies atypical.
The best thing of the OPM forums is you will hear from multiple sides and many ways to approach and do something. It makes you think, consider, and view things is so many ways that you have much better chance of finding a way for yourself, taking pieces ideas that fit, discarding, and working thru this long process of becoming a physician
its possible. I’m not a genius or anything but I am looking at getting A’s in physics and gen. chem this semester. They are the only courses i’m taking and I work full-time.
You know I have to say people looked at me like I was insane when I signed up for A&P, Physics and Chem all at the same time. And for a while I thought I was. But after doing the first semester and now halfway through the second there is an advantage to taking chem and physics in line with each other: They share a LOT of the same focus and topics…a LOT. Pressure, Thermodynamics…etc are covered in both courses. I can’t say how many times I’ve looked at a topic and said “oh, we had this 3 weeks ago in chem” or “ok, we just did this in physics.”
Just some food for thought. For the record though, it’s still hard…just not impossible.
Can you direct me where i can find all the rules you have listed in becoming a better pre med student thank you.
Summary of Rich’s Rules For Non Trads
Rule 1: Take a Breath
Rule 2: Trust Your Gut
Rule 3: It Depends
Rule 4: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Rule 5: Do Not Risk Bad Grades By Taking Too Much
Rule 6: The MCAT Is Your Friend
Rule 7: Learn To Be a Student
Rule 8: Premature Application
Rule 9: The “6P” Principle
Rule 10: The FUD factor: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
- tim83 Said:
Just some food for thought. For the record though, it's still hard....just not impossible.
Actually I think Gen Chem and Physics is quite doable. I find physics completely logical and straight forward. I just get concerned that students sometimes try to test the waters by diving in with both feet. So if you are confident of student skills and have time management with work and family, its quite doable.
Man - you are a HULK!